Thursday, April 27, 2006

Professor’s lawyer: My client’s speech prerogatives, to include wanton destruction, trump everybody else’s
Prof, others charged in cross case

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS - A professor and six students at Northern Kentucky University were charged Wednesday with misdemeanors related to the April 12 destruction of an anti-abortion display on campus.

Sally Jacobsen of the literature and language department, has been charged with criminal mischief, theft by unlawful taking and criminal solicitation. The third charge relates to evidence that she encouraged students to participate in the destruction, County Attorney Justin Verst said.

The six students, who range in age from 21 to 27, were charged with criminal mischief and theft by unlawful taking.

The theft charge is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $500 fine.

The criminal mischief and solicitation charges are class B misdemeanors punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $250 fine.

Verst said additional students might be charged as their identities become known.

Four hundred crosses representing aborted fetuses were pulled from the ground and thrown in trash cans around campus.

A sign explaining the temporary display, which had been approved by university officials as an expression of free speech, was also removed.

Jacobsen told reporters that she had "invited" students in her graduate-level British literature course to exercise free-speech by destroying the display.

She said she was offended by the simulated cemetery, which she considered intimidating and harmful to women who might be considering abortions. NKU's campus newspaper, the Northerner, published photos of Jacobsen dismantling part of the display…

Jacobsen has received a large amount of hate mail, her lawyer, Margo Grubbs of Fort Wright, said.

She had no idea there would be so much fallout, and she is sorry for the hurt she caused, Grubbs said.

"She never wanted to harm her university or her students at all," Grubbs said. "Twenty-seven years of her life have been at this university."

Jacobsen will plead not guilty, Grubbs said. Grubbs said the dismantling of the display doesn't amount to a criminal act.

"The intent was just an expression of freedom of speech," Grubbs said. "She saw harm coming from it, and she was just expressing her attitude towards the harm."

The six students are Michelle Cruey, Katie Nelson, Heather Nelson, Stephanie Horton, Sara Keebler and Laura Caster. A court date was set for May 11...

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